That Harder Boy

Chris Harder mines the mysteries of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys for his latest burlesque spectacular.
January 19, 2016

A lot of the acts or numbers that I do, I carry around in my head for a long time,” says boylesque performer Chris Harder. In the case of his latest show, Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy: The Mystery of the Family Jewels, a collaboration with burlesque beauty Nasty Canasta, it took two years for an idea that sprang from a pun on their names to come to fruition. “I think I was drunk one night at a party and I was like, ‘We need to do a show that’s Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy!’”

Inspired by classic Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys mysteries, Family Jewels, which opens January 24 for a two-night run at The Slipper Room, is more than your standard themed burlesque revue. Harder drew on his long-dormant theater training to create a play that incorporates burlesque and drag numbers into its narrative in much the same way that a Broadway musical incorporates song and dance. “I really wanted to challenge myself and work in a different form that I haven’t been able to in the past five or six years,” Harder says.

He’s spent the past three months prepping for the show. “Three months,” Harder muses. “Three months religiously reading about Nancy and Joe and Frank Hardy. Which is kind of great because everything [in the books] is so positive that you start to get in this mindset—it’s like a natural high. You just walk out of your apartment and you’re like, Oh, the world really is beautiful!

Harder talks about the show—which features performances by drag divas Fifi DuBois and Honey Davenport alongside performance art and burlesque by Poison Eve, Bastard Keith, and others—as if it’s a kind of turning point. The premiere comes just as he turns 30, and has made the decision to shift his focus from his work in the adult industry back to his first love, burlesque. “It’s almost like a launching point,” Harder says. “I want to get more into—my friend calls it longer-form performance. In burlesque our numbers are maybe five minutes long, tops. My major long ago was theater, and I still really enjoy theater, but I enjoy making it on my own terms.” 

Nasty Drew and That Harder Boy: The Mystery of the Family Jewels, January 24 and 25 at The Slipper Room (Stanton St), 167 Orchard St 7:30; $15–$25. Visit slipperroom.com for more info.

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